From a prison cell in Sheridan, Ore., one of the highest-ranking CIA officials ever to plead guilty to espionage allegedly tried to pull off another daring feat of tradecraft.
Through a series of meetings, phone calls and letters filled with encouraging words, Harold J. Nicholson enlisted his youngest son to travel the world and collect cash from Russian agents as a “pension” for his past services, federal officials said yesterday.
A former instructor at the agency’s Northern Virginia-based training school, known as “the farm,” Nicholson already had admitted to giving the Russians the identities of some of his CIA pupils and the station chief in Moscow in the 1990s in exchange for $300,000.
But even after Nicholson reported to prison in 1997, the former CIA operative allegedly kept up his clandestine activities, attempting to recruit inmates and their friends to serve as go-betweens with Russian officials. Nicholson apparently was after a “kind of retirement ‘pension’ available to him in Russia,” according to court papers filed by the FBI.
Those allegations helped lead to new criminal charges against Nicholson and his son Nathaniel of conspiracy, money laundering and acting as a foreign agent, in what Oregon U.S. Attorney Karin J. Immergut called “a sinister and continuing scheme.”..